Muscle boost:Taiwan firm’s probiotic strain receives first health claim in South Korea

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Synbio Tech's probiotic strain TWK10 has been approved to make the claim  ‘may help to improve endurance of exercise performance capability’ in South Korea. ©Getty Images
Synbio Tech's probiotic strain TWK10 has been approved to make the claim ‘may help to improve endurance of exercise performance capability’ in South Korea. ©Getty Images

Related tags muscle health Taiwan South korea health functional foods

Taiwan’s Synbio Tech has received an individual Health Functional Food (HFF) in South Korea for its flagship muscle-building probiotic strain.

The strain, Lactobacillus plantarum ​TWK10, has been approved by South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) to make the functional claim ‘may help to improve endurance of exercise performance capability’.

This is also the first time the strain has been allowed by a health authority to make a functional claim. Prior to this, the strain received the self-affirmed Generally Recognised As Safe (GRAS) status.

Isolated from Taiwan fermented cabbage, the strain has been shown to produce muscle-related health benefits.

A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial conducted on non-athletes has shown that supplementation of the strain could improve exercise performance and body composition – specifically decreasing body fat and increasing muscle mass. Findings of the study were published in Nutrients.

Another study showed that the supplementation of TWK10 could increase and improve muscle mass, left hand grip strength, lower limb muscle strength, gait speed and balance after six weeks. Findings were published in Microorganisms.

Based on the clinical findings, the company hopes to promote the use of TWK10 for active nutrition and among the seniors.

“As we know, Asia has an increasing elderly population and so we wanted to target the South Korean and Japanese market for its ageing market.

“Because TWK10 helps the muscle mass and muscle health, our two main target consumers are therefore the active population and the elderly,” ​Lisa Chen, marketing director, told NutraIngredients-Asia.

The company had spent about two years to prepare and apply for the HFF status before the South Korean authority had approved it last December.

South Korea’s population aged 65 and above was projected to hit 9.02 million in 2022, equivalent to 17.5 per cent of the total population, according to Statistics Korea​, a government agency under the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The country is projected to become a super-aged society in two years’ time, when the elderly population reaches 20.6 per cent of the total population.

Distributorship with COSMAX NBT

Alongside the HFF status, Synbio Tech has also secured an exclusive distributor partnership with South Korean firm COSMAX NBT, which will be responsible for distributing TWK10 in the country. 

In Japan, the company is working with a number of distributors.

Outside of Asia, the company has been distributing TWK10 in Europe and the US through a distribution partnership with Lonza.

It is also in the midst of identifying more partners to act as the sole distributor of the ingredient in different parts of Asia.

Dosage formats wise, TWK10 can be incorporated into a capsule supplement, sachet, or even jelly. Some brands have also formulated the probiotic with protein.

Some of the brands that are using TWK10 include Japanese brand Amino NEXT HMB, jelly supplement Proterise, and Taiwan’s Powerlab vegetarian protein powder.

“Consumers are more concerned about going plant-based right and going clean label, so there is a lot of demand on this kind of ingredient and this kind of product.

“I think what gives TWK10 a huge advantage is that it is plant-based, vegan, and clean label, and so I think these are attractive factors for brands to incorporate this ingredient into their products,” ​said Chen.  

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